Background

Millisecond timing error means that your experiment is not working as you intended and that your results might be invalid.

  • Are you always carrying out the experiments you assume you are?
  • Are you aware of millisecond timing error in your own experiments?
  • Are you confident you can replicate experiments using different hardware and software in another lab?
The key question you should be asking yourself is, "Am I confident in my findings and would I be happy for a researcher in the same field to independently check my experiments?"

Are you putting your reputation at risk?

We can help

If you wish to discuss how any of our products could help you improve your research feel free to email us. Alternatively contact us by mail, phone or fax.

How to improve millisecond timing in your psychology experiments


At the Black Box ToolKit we believe that you, the researcher, are the one best placed to detect and correct any timing errors in your own studies prior to publication. To enable you to accomplish this we have developed a range of easy to use hardware and software products that let you quickly improve your timing accuracy and consistency.

Our ethos is that researchers should reduce millisecond presentation, synchronization and response timing error to as near zero as possible. To do this you need tools that let you establish your current levels of timing error and hardware that lets you keep levels low.

Black Box ToolKit v2™

Our key product that helps you evaluate millisecond timing accuracy is the Black Box ToolKit v2 (BBTK v2). This is a hardware independent device that checks timing accuracy in your experiments when running on your own hardware in three easy steps:

    1. Set-up – Hook up external stimulus sensors (opto-detectors, mics, TTL) and a response device (response pad, robotic key actuator, sounder, TTL)
    2. Test – Use a wizard to select a stimulus pattern to automatically respond to/event mark. Then choose the exact response time, response device and duration
    3. Analyze – Check your stimulus, response and synchronization timings across up to 36 channels. Compare what your experiment recorded with what the BBTK saw

Once you determine levels of timing accuracy you can take steps to correct any issues, e.g. moving stimuli temporally forward or backward in the presentation timeline so that they align in the real world when they physically appear.

The BBTK v2 hardware and software is used in labs across the world and encompasses Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, Language and Vision research among others. It is the gold standard for assessing millisecond timing accuracy, event marking and self-validation. Be sure of your research results prior to publication. Compare

mBlack Box ToolKit v2™ (event marking version)

The mBBTK v2 is an easy to use fit and forget solution for TTL event marking in psychology experiments that use EEG, fMRI, Eye Tracking or any study where you need to event mark with sub-millisecond accuracy.

 The mBBTK v2 (event marking version) is designed to act as your eyes and ears and event mark exactly when a stimulus appears, a sound is made or a response button is pressed. Objective, independent and right first time every time.

With up to 48 input channels there is a sensor to cover every type of stimulus. Any input channel or sensor can quickly be paired with any of the 24 TTL event marking output lines using our PC Software. What€™s more all event marking data is simultaneously recorded in real time for later analysis.

If you want to run standalone without a PC, no problem. Simply download between 1-10 onboard profiles. Sick of wires? Then you can control the mBBTK from across the room using Bluetooth! Compare

BBTK 1-8 button USB response pad

Our USB response pad and response pad with voice key enable you to reduce variation in your response times and increase accuracy. They check for a button press 50,000 times per second and transmit a standard keystroke to your experimental PC in around 60 millionths of a seconds (50kHz and 60΅s respectively). This helps ensure that you can be sure that your response device is not adding to response inaccuracy. On the voice key model a vocal response sends a standard keystroke to your PC.

Both types of response pad are fit and forget replacements and appear to your experiment as a standard keyboard where button presses appear as if a key had been pressed. Up to 9x TTL signals can be used for event marking button and voice key activity.

Remember although our USB response pads are millisecond accurate and help reduce response time variability in your psychology experiments they can't automatically correct for any mistimings that are inherent within the experiment generator you use. If you wish to check the accuracy and consistency of your experiment generator, or system as a whole, you are advised to use a Black Box ToolKit v2 together with a BBTK USB response pad. Compare

USB TTL event marking module

Often it is useful to send a TTL event mark from your experiment generator when a stimulus is shown or other event occurs, e.g. in EEG studies. With the demise of the parallel port on PCs this has become increasingly problematic. Our USB to TTL event marking module enables you to event mark with ease. Designed as a parallel port replacement and with 16 event marking lines/channels you can send TTL events quickly and easily from the majority of experiment generators and your own software.

Remember although our USB TTL event marking modules are millisecond accurate internally they can't automatically correct for any mistimings that are inherent within the experiment generator you use. If you wish to check the accuracy and consistency of your experiment generator, or system as a whole, you are advised to use a Black Box ToolKit v2 together with a BBTK USB TTL event marking module. Compare

4 port USB response box

The response box is designed for use in custom applications where our 1-8 button USB response pads cannot be used. It emulates a standard keyboard and allows you to plug-in 1-4 high quality external push-to-make buttons. When pushed a standard keystroke is sent to the computer as though a key on a keyboard had been pressed. It enables you to build your own custom input solutions safe in the knowledge your accuracy isn't compromised. A TTL signal port can also be used for event marking.

Remember although our USB response boxes are millisecond accurate and help reduce response time variability in your psychology experiments they can't automatically correct for any mistimings that are inherent within the experiment generator you use. If you wish to check the accuracy and consistency of your experiment generator, or system as a whole, you are advised to use a Black Box ToolKit v2 together with a BBTK USB response box. Compare

Custom built devices and consultancy

As the Black Box ToolKit employs Psychologists, Electronic Engineers and Programmers we can offer a wide range of bespoke services. We have the design and manufacturing capabilities to produce one-off custom built devices for a reasonable cost or to customize one of our existing products for you. Need more production volume – we can help here too. Why not ask us for a quote for custom hardware design and manufacture or about our consultancy services in order to take your project to the next level.

I need to talk specifics

If you would like to discuss the functionality of any of our products or would like to inquire about our consultancy services feel free to contact us. Please note we are unable to give specific advice on timing unless you are one of our products users.

About company


The Black Box Toolkit Ltd was founded in 2003 by a team of psychologists, software experts and electronic engineers.


Dedicated to improving the millisecond timing accuracy and experimental rigor of researchers in the behavioral and brain sciences.

We provide hardware, software and consultancy solutions across a wide range of fields to make this a reality. Print flyer

Get in Touch

  • Phone:
    +44 (0)114 3030056
  • Email:
    info@blackboxtoolkit.com
  • Address:
    The Black Box ToolKit Ltd,
    PO Box 3802, Sheffield,
    S25 9AG, UK